As more states legalize medical and recreational marijuana, the pot culture is spawning some big side industries.
Vaporizers, which were already seeing growth from people shifting away from traditional cigarettes, have seen a sales surge as cannabis legalization has spread.
Widely used by marijuana enthusiasts, vapes have historically been low-cost, low-tech products. But many in the industry are now adopting business models that are more in line with tech giants like Apple, Samsung and Sony as a means to grow sales.
On April 20, the unofficial appreciation day for marijuana and a Black Friday-like event for vape manufacturers, it might first help to get a sense of the size of the vape market.
Exact numbers are tough to come by because manufacturers are privately held. Most vaporizers are sold either directly from company websites or in tobacco and vapor shops, where groups like Nielsen have limited tracking.
While there are some outlandish claims putting the market in the $10 billion-plus range, that seems unlikely. The Winston-Salem Journal estimated vaporizer sales (excluding e-cigarettes) would hit $2.5 billion last year.
Namaste Technologies, a leading Internet marketer of vaporizers and accessories, has predicted it will generate revenue of $15.7 million Canadian ($11.7 million U.S.) this fiscal year, and $24.9 million Canadian ($18.5 million U.S.) for the fiscal year ending August 31, 2018. It expects revenues to increase 35 percent each year through 2020.
Top vape manufacturers, though, say they're seeing annual growth rates of several hundred percent year over year. A big part of that is the decision by many to aggressively market high-end, high-dollar products that feature regular upgrades.